Get a mental boost by embracing natural elements inside your home

by Judy Stringer

We’ve all heard – time and time again – about the important role diet and exercise play in our overall health, but few of us realize home design can factor into optimal wellness, too.

Dwelling among natural elements like wood, stone and organic textiles, can boost your mood, increase your productivity and improve your mental well-being.

These materials are also versatile, calming and timeless, said Julie Pawlowski, owner and principal designer at Hudson-based MOD: matter of design.

“We feel refreshed and restored when we spend time outdoors and experience nature, so it stands to reason that bringing some of that into your home would have a benefit,” she said.

Pawlowski said plants are one of the easiest ways to “bring a room to life.” Potted plants are a classic choice, but she noted wall-mounted vases are gaining in popularity. With the latter, homeowners can change plants to reflect the seasons.

She also likes rugs made of organic materials like hemp, wool and jute, which not only echo earthly hues but introduce texture into the space, as do wood coffee or end tables with exposed grains and live edges.

“Then there’s this whole space of amazing handmade wall coverings that use natural fibers like bamboo or sea grass and even vinyl [wall covering] that you can’t tell are vinyl because they look and feel just like natural materials,” Pawlowski said. “Those are good for use in a bathroom or in the hallways.”

Don’t overlook smaller finishes like wooden bowls and baskets, wool pillows and even candles, she said.

Nick Boka, a designer with Anthony Slabaugh Remodeling & Design in Stow, said remodeling is the perfect time to incorporate some natural elements. From rich hardwood flooring and stained cabinetry to natural stone or butcher block countertops, natural materials can be a part of every major element of a kitchen renovation.

“If you’re looking to do a natural stone backsplash, they turn out absolutely beautiful,” he said. “There’s some really cool waterjet mosaics out there that you can use as an accent, to show about a range for instance, or as an entire kitchen backsplash.”

Waterjet mosaic tiles mix materials such as glass, metal and natural stone.

Light fixtures crafted from wood, copper, brass or other natural materials are another unique choice, according to Boka, who also noted that many of the firm’s clients increase the size of windows or doors to bring sunlight into their living areas.

“Sure, I can put a bunch of light fixtures and can lights to brighten it up, [but] there’s just something about having this nice influx of natural light coming in from a large kitchen window or a patio door to really make the space feel bright and invigorating.” ∞